Bulls Showing Signs of Fatigue

Good morning. We’ve got a new week on tap so let’s get started with a review of my key market models/indicators and see where we stand. To review, the primary goal of this exercise is to try and remove any subjective notions about what “should” be happening in the market in an attempt to stay in line with what “is” happening in the markets. So, let’s get started.

The State of the Trend

We start our review each week with a look at the “state of the trend.” These indicators are designed to give us a feel for the overall health of the current short- and intermediate-term trend models.


View Trend Indicator Board Online

Executive Summary:

  • Hate to sound like a broken record here, but with the S&P 500 closing at yet another all-time high on Friday, it is not surprising to see all of our Trend Models positive this morning.
  • Both the short- and intermediate-term Channel Breakout System indicators are positive again this week.
  • The long-term Trend Model continues to sport a bright shade of green.
  • Although the Cycle Composite has been out of sync with the market moves since mid-August, the composite points lower for the next two weeks.
  • We probably don’t need anything but a chart to tell us this, but all three Trading Mode models agree that this remains a trending environment.

The State of Internal Momentum

Next up are the momentum indicators, which are designed to tell us whether there is any “oomph” behind the current trend.


View Momentum Indicator Board Online

Executive Summary:

  • The short-term Trend and Breadth Confirm Model slipped to neutral last week. This should be viewed as a warning sign that momentum is waning on the upside.
  • Our intermediate-term Trend and Breadth Confirm Model, which has done a very good job staying with the overall trend, remains positive.
  • The Industry Health Model remains at the high end of Neutral. However, we should note that this model has been unable to move into the outright positive zone during this cycle. As such, I’m not going to worry about the status of this indicator.
  • The reading of our short-term Volume Relationship model is positive, however, the trend of up volume is heading the wrong way at this time.
  • A similar story is being told by the intermediate-term Volume Relationship model. The model itself is positive, but the trend of demand volume has now turned down from a short-term perspective.
  • The Price Thrust Indicator remains on a buy signal but the indicator reading has slipped to neutral. Since the indicator is an oscillator, this simply means that the most recent buy signal is becoming “stale.”
  • Not surprisingly, the Volume Thrust Indicator remains negative.
  • The Breadth Thrust Indicator is in the neutral zone to start the week.
  • There has been a subtle shift in the status of the momentum board – and I view this as a potential yellow flag that the bulls may be tiring from their big run this year.

The State of the “Trade”

We also focus each week on the “early warning” board, which is designed to indicate when traders might start to “go the other way” — for a trade.


View Early Warning Indicator Board Online

Executive Summary:

  • From a near-term perspective, stocks are once again overbought. But, the fact that stocks have not been able to become oversold since mid-August should be viewed as a sign of strength.
  • From an intermediate-term view, stocks remain VERY overbought. But again, this appears to be a “good overbought” condition.
  • The Mean Reversion Model starts the week in the neutral zone but is moving closer to a new signal.
  • The short-term VIX indicator is very close to issuing a fresh sell signal – for a trade.
  • Our longer-term VIX Indicator, which remains on a very timely buy signal, has reversed and is now in position to issue a sell. But not yet.
  • From a short-term perspective, the market sentiment model has flip-flopped between negative and neutral of late. This week, the model is back in the red – by a slim margin.
  • The intermediate-term Sentiment Model has not wavered and remains negative.
  • Ditto for the longer-term Sentiment reading – solidly red.
  • The key takeaway here is the “early warning” board is starting to look like the 3rd grader in the back of the room that knows the answer and desperately wants to be called on.

The State of the Macro Picture

Now let’s move on to the market’s “external factors” – the indicators designed to tell us the state of the big-picture market drivers including monetary conditions, the economy, inflation, and valuations.


View External Factors Indicator Board Online

Executive Summary:

  • Absolute Monetary conditions continue to weaken as our model declined to the lowest level of the year.
  • While in better shape than the absolute model, the Relative Monetary Model is also neutral.
  • Our new Economic Model, which now indicates the status of economic growth continues to suggest the economy is doing just fine, thank you.
  • The Inflation Model remains stuck in the neutral zone and continues to suggest that inflation pressures are miniscule at the present time.
  • The Absolute Valuation Model hasn’t budged and remains solidly red.
  • Our Relative Valuation Model remains neutral but is heading in the wrong direction here.

The State of the Big-Picture Market Models

Finally, let’s review my favorite big-picture market models, which are designed to tell us which team is in control of the prevailing major trend.


View My Favorite Market Models Online

Executive Summary:

  • The Leading Indicators model, which was our best performing timing model during the last cycle, has pulled back a bit recently but remains positive.
  • We have recently upgraded our “State of the tape” model to include an additional 5 indicator readings. The current reading of the new model is positive at this time with a reading of 100%.
  • The Risk/Reward model remains on a buy signal but slipped into the lower reaches of the neutral zone last week. This is likely due to the weakness seen in the monetary and sentiment areas.
  • The new, expanded External Factors model includes a total of 10 indicators ranging from earnings, yields, sentiment, monetary, economic, and volatility. The current model reading is high neutral.

My Takeaway…

The trick to this game is to be able to stay in tune with the market’s major cycles. And that is what our weekly indicator review is all about. So, while there are indeed some things to fret about here such as waning momentum, an overbought condition, extreme complacency, and weakness in the monetary models, the bottom line is this remains a bull market until proven otherwise. My take on the “yea buts” that are cropping up on the indicator boards is that the market is overdue for a pullback that lasts more than a day or two. And with the issue of tax reform representing headline risk, I would not at all be surprised to see some volatility return before year-end. But then again, I’ve been saying this for a while now! Therefore, the game plan would appear to be, buy the dips – any dips.

Publishing Note: I am traveling the middle of the week and have some very early commitments so I will publish reports as my schedule permits.

Sample Risk Exposure System

Below is an EXAMPLE of how some of above indicators might be used in order to determine exposure to market risk. The approach used here is a “Model of Models” comprised of 10 independent Models. Each model included gives separate buy and sell signals, which affects a percentage of the model’s overall exposure to the market.

Trend models control a total 40% of our exposure. The 3 Momentum Models and 3 Environment Models each control 10% of the portfolio’s exposure to market risk. The model’s “Exposure to Market Risk” reading (at the bottom of the Model) acts as an EXAMPLE of a longer-term guide to exposure to market risk.

In looking at the “bottom line” of this model, my take is that readings over 75% are “positive,” readings between 50% and 75% are “moderately positive,” and readings below 50% should be viewed as a warning that all is not right with the indicator world.


View Sample Exposure Model Online

The model above is for illustrative and informational purposes only and does not in any way represent any investment recommendation. The model is merely a sample of how indicators can be grouped to create a guide to market exposure based on the inputs from multiple indicators/models.

Thought For The Day:

To thine own self be true. -William Shakespeare

Current Market Drivers

We strive to identify the driving forces behind the market action on a daily basis. The thinking is that if we can both identify and understand why stocks are doing what they are doing on a short-term basis; we are not likely to be surprised/blind-sided by a big move. Listed below are what we believe to be the driving forces of the current market (Listed in order of importance).

      1. The State of Tax Reform

      2. The State of the Earnings Season

      3. The State of Fed Policy/Leadership

      4. The State of the Economy

Indicators Explained

Short-Term Trend-and-Breadth Signal Explained: History shows the most reliable market moves tend to occur when the breadth indices are in gear with the major market averages. When the breadth measures diverge, investors should take note that a trend reversal may be at hand. This indicator incorporates NDR’s All-Cap Dollar Weighted Equity Series and A/D Line. From 1998, when the A/D line is above its 5-day smoothing and the All-Cap Equal Weighted Equity Series is above its 25-day smoothing, the equity index has gained at a rate of +32.5% per year. When one of the indicators is above its smoothing, the equity index has gained at a rate of +13.3% per year. And when both are below, the equity index has lost +23.6% per year.

Channel Breakout System Explained: The short-term and intermediate-term Channel Breakout Systems are modified versions of the Donchian Channel indicator. According to Wikipedia, “The Donchian channel is an indicator used in market trading developed by Richard Donchian. It is formed by taking the highest high and the lowest low of the last n periods. The area between the high and the low is the channel for the period chosen.”

Intermediate-Term Trend-and-Breadth Signal Explained: This indicator incorporates NDR’s All-Cap Dollar Weighted Equity Series and A/D Line. From 1998, when the A/D line is above its 45-day smoothing and the All-Cap Equal Weighted Equity Series is above its 45-day smoothing, the equity index has gained at a rate of +17.6% per year. When one of the indicators is above its smoothing, the equity index has gained at a rate of +6.5% per year. And when both are below, the equity index has lost -1.3% per year.

Industry Health Model Explained: Designed to provide a reading on the technical health of the overall market, Big Mo Tape takes the technical temperature of more than 100 industry sectors each week. Looking back to early 1980, when the model is rated as “positive,” the S&P has averaged returns in excess of 23% per year. When the model carries a “neutral” reading, the S&P has returned over 11% per year. But when the model is rated “negative,” stocks fall by more than -13% a year on average.

Cycle Composite Projections: The cycle composite combines the 1-year Seasonal, 4-year Presidential, and 10-year Decennial cycles. The indicator reading shown uses the cycle projection for the upcoming week.

Trading Mode Indicator: This indicator attempts to identify whether the current trading environment is “trending” or “mean reverting.” The indicator takes the composite reading of the Efficiency Ratio, the Average Correlation Coefficient, and Trend Strength models.

Volume Relationship Models: These models review the relationship between “supply” and “demand” volume over the short- and intermediate-term time frames.

Price Thrust Model Explained: This indicator measures the 3-day rate of change of the Value Line Composite relative to the standard deviation of the 30-day average. When the Value Line’s 3-day rate of change have moved above 0.5 standard deviation of the 30-day average ROC, a “thrust” occurs and since 2000, the Value Line Composite has gained ground at a rate of +20.6% per year. When the indicator is below 0.5 standard deviation of the 30-day, the Value Line has lost ground at a rate of -10.0% per year. And when neutral, the Value Line has gained at a rate of +5.9% per year.

Volume Thrust Model Explained: This indicator uses NASDAQ volume data to indicate bullish and bearish conditions for the NASDAQ Composite Index. The indicator plots the ratio of the 10-day total of NASDAQ daily advancing volume (i.e., the total volume traded in stocks which rose in price each day) to the 10-day total of daily declining volume (volume traded in stocks which fell each day). This ratio indicates when advancing stocks are attracting the majority of the volume (readings above 1.0) and when declining stocks are seeing the heaviest trading (readings below 1.0). This indicator thus supports the case that a rising market supported by heavier volume in the advancing issues tends to be the most bullish condition, while a declining market with downside volume dominating confirms bearish conditions. When in a positive mode, the NASDAQ Composite has gained at a rate of +38.3% per year, When neutral, the NASDAQ has gained at a rate of +13.3% per year. And when negative, the NASDAQ has lost at a rate of -8.5% per year.

Breadth Thrust Model Explained: This indicator uses the number of NASDAQ-listed stocks advancing and declining to indicate bullish or bearish breadth conditions for the NASDAQ Composite. The indicator plots the ratio of the 10-day total of the number of stocks rising on the NASDAQ each day to the 10-day total of the number of stocks declining each day. Using 10-day totals smooths the random daily fluctuations and gives indications on an intermediate-term basis. As expected, the NASDAQ Composite performs much better when the 10-day A/D ratio is high (strong breadth) and worse when the indicator is in its lower mode (weak breadth). The most bullish conditions for the NASDAQ when the 10-day A/D indicator is not only high, but has recently posted an extreme high reading and thus indicated a thrust of upside momentum. Bearish conditions are confirmed when the indicator is low and has recently signaled a downside breadth thrust. In positive mode, the NASDAQ has gained at a rate of +22.1% per year since 1981. In a neutral mode, the NASDAQ has gained at a rate of +14.5% per year. And when in a negative mode, the NASDAQ has lost at a rate of -6.4% per year.

Short-Term Overbought/sold Indicator: This indicator is the current reading of the 14,1,3 stochastic oscillator. When the oscillator is above 80 and the %K is above the %D, the indicator gives an overbought reading. Conversely, when the oscillator is below 20 and %K is below its %D, the indicator is oversold.

Intermediate-Term Overbought/sold Indicator: This indicator is a 40-day RSI reading. When above 57.5, the indicator is considered overbought and wnen below 45 it is oversold.

Mean Reversion Model: This is a diffusion model consisting of five indicators that can produce buy and sell signals based on overbought/sold conditions.

VIX Indicator: This indicators looks at the current reading of the VIX relative to standard deviation bands. When the indicator reaches an extreme reading in either direction, it is an indication that a market trend could reverse in the near-term.

Short-Term Sentiment Indicator: This is a model-of-models composed of 18 independent sentiment indicators designed to indicate when market sentiment has reached an extreme from a short-term perspective. Historical analysis indicates that the stock market’s best gains come after an environment has become extremely negative from a sentiment standpoint. Conversely, when sentiment becomes extremely positive, market returns have been subpar.

Intermediate-Term Sentiment Indicator: This is a model-of-models composed of 7 independent sentiment indicators designed to indicate when market sentiment has reached an extreme from a intrmediate-term perspective. Historical analysis indicates that the stock market’s best gains come after an environment has become extremely negative from a sentiment standpoint. Conversely, when sentiment becomes extremely positive, market returns have been subpar.

Long-Term Sentiment Indicator: This is a model-of-models composed of 6 independent sentiment indicators designed to indicate when market sentiment has reached an extreme from a long-term perspective. Historical analysis indicates that the stock market’s best gains come after an environment has become extremely negative from a sentiment standpoint. Conversely, when sentiment becomes extremely positive, market returns have been subpar.

Absolute Monetary Model Explained: The popular cliche, “Don’t fight the Fed” is really a testament to the profound impact that interest rates and Fed policy have on the market. It is a proven fact that monetary conditions are one of the most powerful influences on the direction of stock prices. The Absolute Monetary Model looks at the current level of interest rates relative to historical levels and Fed policy.

Relative Monetary Model Explained: The “relative” monetary model looks at monetary indicators relative to recent levels as well as rates of change and Fed Policy.

Economic Model Explained: During the middle of bull and bear markets, understanding the overall health of the economy and how it impacts the stock market is one of the few truly logical aspects of the stock market. When our Economic model sports a “positive” reading, history (beginning in 1965) shows that stocks enjoy returns in excess of 21% per year. Yet, when the model’s reading falls into the “negative” zone, the S&P has lost nearly -25% per year. However, it is vital to understand that there are times when good economic news is actually bad for stocks and vice versa. Thus, the Economic model can help investors stay in tune with where we are in the overall economic cycle.

Inflation Model Explained: They say that “the tape tells all.” However, one of the best “big picture” indicators of what the market is expected to do next is inflation. Simply put, since 1962, when the model indicates that inflationary pressures are strong, stocks have lost ground. Yet, when inflationary pressures are low, the S&P 500 has gained ground at a rate in excess of 13%. The bottom line is inflation is one of the primary drivers of stock market returns.

Valuation Model Explained: If you want to get analysts really riled up, you need only to begin a discussion of market valuation. While the question of whether stocks are overvalued or undervalued appears to be a simple one, the subject is actually extremely complex. To simplify the subject dramatically, investors must first determine if they should focus on relative valuation (which include the current level of interest rates) or absolute valuation measures (the more traditional readings of Price/Earnings, Price/Dividend, and Price/Book Value). We believe that it is important to recognize that environments change. And as such, the market’s focus and corresponding view of valuations are likely to change as well. Thus, we depend on our Valuation Models to help us keep our eye on the ball.

Wishing you green screens and all the best for a great day,

David D. Moenning
Chief Investment Officer
Sowell Management Services

Disclosure: At the time of publication, Mr. Moenning and/or Sowell Management Services held long positions in the following securities mentioned: none. Note that positions may change at any time.


Disclosures

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are those of Mr. David Moenning and may not actually come to pass. Mr. Moenning’s opinions and viewpoints regarding the future of the markets should not be construed as recommendations. The analysis and information in this report is for informational purposes only. No part of the material presented in this report is intended as an investment recommendation or investment advice. Neither the information nor any opinion expressed constitutes a solicitation to purchase or sell securities or any investment program.

Any investment decisions must in all cases be made by the reader or by his or her investment adviser. Do NOT ever purchase any security without doing sufficient research. There is no guarantee that the investment objectives outlined will actually come to pass. All opinions expressed herein are subject to change without notice. Neither the editor, employees, nor any of their affiliates shall have any liability for any loss sustained by anyone who has relied on the information provided.

The analysis provided is based on both technical and fundamental research and is provided “as is” without warranty of any kind, either expressed or implied. Although the information contained is derived from sources which are believed to be reliable, they cannot be guaranteed.

David D. Moenning is an investment adviser representative of Sowell Management Services, a registered investment advisor. For a complete description of investment risks, fees and services, review the firm brochure (ADV Part 2) which is available by contacting Sowell. Sowell is not registered as a broker-dealer.

Employees and affiliates of Sowell may at times have positions in the securities referred to and may make purchases or sales of these securities while publications are in circulation. Positions may change at any time.

Investments in equities carry an inherent element of risk including the potential for significant loss of principal. Past performance is not an indication of future results.

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